With the 37th pick in last year’s NFL draft, the Houston Texans selected the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year: rookie safety Jalen Pitre.
Pitre quickly proved why he was a true NFL-caliber safety. The 23-year-old recorded 147 tackles leading all rookies in the category, as well as five interceptions, second only to Seattle’s Tariq Woolen, who had six.
Perhaps the least desirable stat for Pitre, however, also fell into the tackles category. Although he led rookies in tackles made, he also led the NFL in missed tackles, with 36.
But as Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson said:
Pitre missed the same number of tackles in his entire college career as he did in his rookie season, so there’s good reason to expect that to sort himself out going forward.
Monson listed Pitre as the likely up-and-coming candidate for the Texans during the 2023 season, and ESPN listed him in the “just missed” category for the year’s top rookies, so it’s safe to say Pitre has already garnered positive attention.
In 2022, Houston earned a top 10 finish in takeaways per game, making its defense one of the toughest to break in the league. This was demonstrated during the December 18 game against Kansas City, when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led his team to a six-point victory, but not before the game went into overtime and the Chiefs lost the battle for the turnover due to two forced fumbles by the Texans.
After Houston allowed the second-most rushing yards per game in 2021, rookie cornerback-safety duo of Pitre and third overall pick Derek Stingley Jr. greatly improved the Texans’ secondary and overall defense, but even so, the challenge remains.
For Pitre to continue trending in a positive direction for the Texans, he’ll need to buckle up to avoid fundamental mistakes.
Only time will tell the biggest impact he will have over his career with the Texans, but rest assured that the coaching staff will go into the offseason with the goal of using Pitre as well as possible ahead of his sophomore season. to continue to find success on the defensive end.
And when Houston takes the field for his opener in 2023 — with Pitre in the secondary — all eyes will be on him.
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